Failure Is An Option

Two school years ago (don’t all teachers think in those terms?) I signed up for the Take One! part of National Board certification. Getting my certification had been in the back of my mind for awhile, so when my district offered a program with mentors I signed up.

I went to every meeting and study session. I learned how to precariously perch my camera on my filing cabinet to video my lesson. I typed and typed and typed some more. When it was all uploaded (which they sprung on us mid-process) and submitted, I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Now I just had to wait.

To be honest, I didn’t obsess over my score. I thought about it from time to time, but always with a shrug of the shoulders and “Who knows?”. But early one November morning when I got the email that my score was available, I got nervous. I quickly logged in to my account and went to my score report.

It wasn’t good.

Now, I know that most people don’t pass the first time. I know you can redo your entry. I know that it’s not really about what you can do as a teacher but what you put on those fourteen typed pages.


Over a year later, all I really remember is my score was low. LOW. I remember that I didn’t know my subject matter. Or my kids. Or pretty much anything. It was as if I’d never taught before.

Now I know those things aren’t true. Intellectually I do. But that one test score was so demoralizing that the last thing I wanted to do was go to school and teach all day. But I did.

I’m an adult. I’m a former straight A student. I have multiple degrees and certifications. But.



There’s still a small voice in my head that reminds me of that test score.

And if that’s how I feel about a test score, how do our children feel each and every time they endure this testing process?



2 thoughts on “Failure Is An Option

  1. Sue Cavanaugh January 5, 2015 / 6:15 pm

    I can’t tell you how many times I felt like you did when you got your score. Feedback from administrators after a walk-through – I felt so inadequate. I saw the same reaction in children when they scored low on tests. I am an adult, so I can work through these things, but a child is a different matter. I would talk with students and tell them that they were improving and working hard and that was all that mattered to me. But I saw the damage to their psyches. That’s why I don’t understand why parents aren’t in an uprising about what these toxic tests are doing to their children’s psyches. It’s so blatant what it does to the child, and the parents see what it does to their child. I do think the natives are restless and the tide is changing. Something’s gotta give. My fear is that corporate ed. reformers will push their agenda through regardless. They. Don’t. Care. about children. Thank you for sharing this! It is a feeling shared by many, many teachers, and it’s difficult for many of them to talk about. Thanks for really putting it out there!


  2. undercoverbat February 21, 2015 / 3:39 pm

    I am so sorry for not responding sooner! I’m learning that I should *not* reply on my phone, because it’s not showing up. #userfail

    Anyway, I echo EVERYTHING you said, and I love all the memes you’re creating on BATs. Thank you!


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